Federal employees protest government shutdown at Independence Mall

- The rule of thumb for government shutdowns is that federal worker will, eventually, get their back pay. But mortgages, car loans and groceries can’t wait. As the shutdown continues, people are hurting.

 "Enough is enough! Stop the shutdown!" chants the impassioned crowd. 

The view from high above a nearly deserted Independence Mall did not do justice to a bubbling anger at Congress and the president.

 "Do your job, so we can do ours!" continued the crowd’s chants.

The mid-morning rally took place in the shadow of the now-shuttered Liberty Bell, which is barely visible to frustrated tourists. Those who work for the National Park Service are just as disappointed.

"People make plans.  They plan to have these experiences and we want them to have them!  And we're saying, 'no, we're shutting this down’ and it's tragic to me,  it breaks my heart,” said Helen McKenna-Uff, an employee for the National Park Service.

In many cases, it's breaking the bank.

"It's nerve-wracking. It's - it really is nerve-wracking,” added Amini Imianvan, who works for the Department of Agriculture's food stamp program in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

She’s a Nigerian immigrant and she's a single mother of two boys.

The government shutdown has forced her to confront difficult circumstances and wonder how she will take care of her children.   

"How do I provide for my sons?  How do I feed them?  How do I pay the bills to put a roof over our heads?" Amini told Fox 29.

The rally was billed as non-partisan but most of the crowd seemed to blame the shutdown on President Trump's insistence on money for a border wall.

Many Democrats say such a wall would be ineffective, given the varied terrain along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick is a moderate Republican from Bucks County.

He believes the stalemate could be broken if lawmakers worried less about the president's terminology, “wall."

"In some cases, they need a physical barrier.  In some cases, they need heat sensors or motion detectors or infrared.  Some sectors they want aerial surveillance.  I depend on the sector.  Let the experts make those decisions, based on the terrain,” Fitzpatrick stated.

In the meantime, federal workers are wondering -- as the second-longest government shutdown ever, grinds on-- how they'll get by.

Bob Challender is with the Federal Aviation Administration’s tech center in Atlantic City.

He struggled through a shutdown in 2013 and knows firsthand what could happen if this one doesn’t end soon.

“People will go bankrupt.  I can outright say that.  There's just no income coming in for many of our families at the tech center,” Challender said.

Many of the federal at Tuesday’s rally will be in Washington D.C. on Thursday to again press their case for a compromise that ends the shutdown.

They are optimistic their views will be heard, but not so optimistic their wishes will be granted.
 

 

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